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Poster: sakanaband Date: Aug 4, 2011 11:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

What did I like about the 80’s Dead?

For me, this was the first era when the band could be just plain glowing hot on one night versus another.

I love the late 60's through Fall of 77' ('76 an exception) but with the exception of 'Dark Star' or other jam vehicles, I cannot typically differentiate one performance of a song from another. This is probably due to an excess of riches where the band was consistently in very fine form. For me, a hot show in that era had almost everything to do with the setlist or a unique jam. That is cool and why that era was fantastic.

The 80's, for me, started the advent of the phenomenon when the band would be blazing and throwing fireballs rendering the setlist as essentially meaningless. Everything they touched turned to gold. True alchemists :) Being there for many shows like that was, um, thrilling. After the first song or two, the venue would literally heat up in temperature if it was indoors. Outdoors it was in tune with the elements. To me, it felt like the band had a cosmic inertia that was the musical equivalent of pulling down the arm of a slot machine and it keeps coming up bars and cherries and the coins are dropping on the floor. People touring at that time certainly recognized this phenomenon. It wasn’t “What did they play?” it was “Were they hot?” There were countless times that even bored security folks and ushers would become entranced and just stare at the stage since this was a palpable experience if you were awake and alive. These were also the nights when our expectations for the band were almost cruelly too high and they would proceed to exceed them and then just destroy that town.

A very few examples of this, to me, are the following off the top of my head:
1987 Alpine
1988 06-23
…and there are countless others. This is what some refer to as the “X-factor” I believe. It is an indefinable concept, but is something like: the music playing the band, the audience in symbiosis with the band, and a bold witnessing of the great Power of the universe being channeled through humans, tunneled through electronics then ecstatically transmitted to even more humans.

This was archetypal as our early ancestors dancing around a communal fire for celebration, prayer and catharsis. The band, the P.A., and the light show were the fire, we were the dancers gathered for the same reason. Primal and unfathomable stuff on those ”X” nights. Yep, that’s what I loved about the 80’s. Who wouldn’t? Oh, and the hard-body, sun-drenched, blonde, dreadlocked honey angels with stars and magic in their eyes on Dead tour were pretty great, too.